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Holocaust & Auschwitz

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Discuss Auschwitz in terms of location, structure, and implications for the Jews and others.

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Solution Summary

Discusses Auschwitz in terms of location, structure, and implications for the Jews and others. This solution also provides an informative pictorial representation of Auschwitz.

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The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

provides excellent photographs of the atrocities of the Holocaust. Soon after liberation, surviving children of the Auschwitz camp walk out of the children's barracks (Poland, after January 27, 1945 see attachment). Refer to this same attachment for various maps depicting the defeat of Nazi Germany (1942-1945).


Auschwitz was the largest camp established by the Germans. A complex of camps, Auschwitz included a concentration, extermination, and forced-labor camp. It was located 37 miles west of Krakow (Cracow), near the prewar German-Polish border in Eastern Upper Silesia, an area annexed to Germany in 1939. Three large camps established near the Polish town of Oswiecim constituted the Auschwitz camp complex: Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II (Birkenau), and Auschwitz III (Monowitz).


Auschwitz I, the main camp, was the first camp established near Oswiecim. Construction began in May 1940 in a suburb of Oswiecim, in an artillery barracks formerly used by the Polish army. The SS continuously expanded the physical contours of the camp with forced labor. The first prisoners were German criminal prisoners deported from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany and Polish political prisoners from Tarnow.

Defeat of Nazi Germany, 1942-1945

Although Auschwitz I was primarily a concentration camp, serving a penal function, it also had a gas chamber and crematorium. An improvised gas chamber was located in the basement of the prison, Block 11, and a larger, more permanent gas chamber was later constructed in the crematorium.

SS physicians carried out medical experiments in the hospital, Barrack (Block) 10. They conducted pseudoscientific research on infants, twins, and dwarfs, and performed forced sterilizations, castrations, and hypothermia experiments on adults.

Between the crematorium and the medical-experiments barrack stood the "Black Wall," where SS guards executed thousands of prisoners.


Construction of Auschwitz II, or Auschwitz-Birkenau, began in the vicinity of Brzezinka in October 1941. Of the three camps established near Oswiecim, the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp had the largest total prisoner ...

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